Waianae coach Walter Young called it a “big task” when told his team would be playing Mililani in the Oahu Interscholastic Association semifinals on Friday at Aloha Stadium.
And it is a tall task. No. 3 Mililani (9-0) is humming on all cylinders and no defense has given them a tough rub yet.
That’s where Waianae’s defense comes in, possibly. The seventh-ranked Seariders’ unit on that side of the ball will have to play well if they are to have a chance on Friday at Aloha Stadium. Campbell gets a rematch with Kahuku in the other league semifinal game. The winners will clinch a spot in the Division I-Open state championship and move on to the league title game Nov. 4.
And while the Seariders (6-3) had to hold on to beat pesky Farrington (5-5) on Friday by the count of 27-21, they did have something that many teams do not have. His name is Rico Rosario and the shifty, hard-running back profits from an ever-improving and proud offensive line.
“All we have to do is make a little hole for Rico,” Waianae offensive lineman Wilson Kerisano said. “Rico is a real good running back who is very hard to tackle and he breaks tackles easily.”
It will be imperative for Waianae’s offense to move the ball, and the Justin Tacgere to Keoki Davis connection helped in the win over the Govs. Davis caught three passes for 81 yards.
But, the importance of the Waianae defense in this upcoming big game cannot be underestimated. Mililani’s offense prides itself on taking space that is given to them by opposing defenses, so the questions will be answered: “What exactly will Waianae give them?” and “Will Mililani find the soft spots or run into a roadblock?”
Mililani’s offensive point totals:
Game 1: 2 (forfeit win at Kaiser)
Game 2: 47 (vs. Leilehua)
Game 3: 49 (at Castle)
Game 4: 49 (at Clayton Valley Charter, Concord, Calif.
Game 5: 42 (at Farrington)
Game 6: 42 (at Kapolei)
Game 7: 44 (vs. Nanakuli)
Game 8: 52 (vs. Kailua)
Game 8: 49 (vs. Moanalua)
Waianae’s points yielded
Game 1: 49 (vs. Saint Louis)
Game 2: 7 (vs. Kapolei)
Game 3: 37 (vs. Kahuku)
Game 4: 14 (vs. Campbell)
Game 5: 20 (vs. Moanalua)
Game 6: 15 (at Radford)
Game 7: 0 (vs. Aiea)
Game 8: 0 (forfeit win at Kaiser)
Game 9: 21 (vs. Farrington)
Thanks to Rosario’s 164 yards on the ground, Waianae doubled up on Farrington in total scrimmage yards — 352 (271 rushing, 81 passing) to 172 (40 rushing, 132 passing).
J-zen Napierala-Rose had two interceptions for the stout Seariders’ defense, including a pick-6. Kanai Mauga and Toto Mailo made their presence felt on the front seven. They both had a fumble recovery and some in-your-face hits. Zefften Avilla-Thompson and Dayne Evangelista also contributed with tackles for loss.
The 21 points the Govs scored is a bit deceiving. Only one TD was against the Waianae defense. The other two were via an interception return and a fumble-recovery return.
Mililani’s offense, as alluded to previously, is a different animal than the one run by Farrington. A stable of running backs complement quarterback Dillon Gabriel and his elusive receivers, including the speedy Ryan Chang, who is a beast to cover.
“We’ve got Mililani,” Young said. “It’s a big task at hand. We will do (in practice) what we’ve gotta do for them and prepare the best for them that we can.”
Added Kerisano: “We’re really pumped and are really looking forward to it. Mililani is no joke, but we’re prepared for it. We’ve got our running game down and our defense is solid.”